Allen details tension with Gates in book

By Barbara Ortutay
Associated Press / April 1, 2011

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NEW YORK — In a memoir out next month, Microsoft Corp. cofounder Paul Allen details tensions in his relationship with Bill Gates, including a scene from 1982, when he overheard Gates talking to current chief executive Steve Ballmer about reducing Allen’s stake in the company while he was undergoing cancer treatment.

“Unable to stand it any longer, I burst in on them and shouted, ‘This is unbelievable! It shows your true character, once and for all.’ I was speaking to both of them, but staring straight at Bill,’’ writes Allen in the book, a part of which was published by Vanity Fair online.

The book, “Idea Man,’’ will be published April 19.

Allen chronicles the first time he and Gates met, in 1968. Allen was in the 10th grade and Gates in the eighth.

“You could tell three things about Bill Gates pretty quickly. He was really smart. He was really competitive; he wanted to show you how smart he was. And he was really, really persistent,’’ writes Allen, who left Microsoft in 1983.

From there on, Allen paints Gates as an ultrafocused micromanager who expects nothing short of total dedication from his employees. Allen’s memoir says Gates slowly tried to lower Allen’s stake in the company.

“From the time we’d started together in Massachusetts, I’d assumed that our partnership would be a 50-50 proposition. But Bill had another idea,’’ writes Allen, adding that he later agreed to a 60-40 split of Microsoft. Not long after, Allen writes that changed to 64-36.

In a statement, Bill Gates said “while my recollection of many of these events may differ from Paul’s, I value his friendship and the important contributions he made to the world of technology and at Microsoft.’’

Microsoft did not comment.